Blog

A halfheartedly updated record of all the things that make my heart sing + a celebration to all the rad people I get to create with

my friend, el.

A couple of years ago I received word that a friend of mine had suddenly passed away. We’d fallen out of touch, but she’d never been far from my mind. I was always so busy when I’d head back to Thunder Bay, trying to fit everything in, and my last two visits - we just never made it work. I stayed up to date through social media, we spoke from time to time, and I thought of her as just there - I thought nothing of messaging her out of the blue, I figured we’d meet up again someday, and that when we did it would be like no time had passed at all.

Being far away and so out of touch - I felt like it wasn’t my loss to grieve. I felt the loss deeply - I still feel it - but it came hand in hand with a lot of guilt for not checking in with her. Now, almost two years later, I find myself wandering through the places I knew her on social media - seeing what books she was loving on GoodReads, visiting her Facebook page, looking over and over again through the archive of photos I still have of that free and disjointed time from ages 18-23, that time straight out of high school - plays, days at the lake, endless yard sales, book clubs, talking true crime - all the countless times we sat in my ‘92 Buick, drove down country roads, and imagined what our lives would be now. Her death was sudden, and heartbreaking, and as unfair as any death can be - especially for someone in their early 30s.

She was sarcastic and blunt with a heart of gold. I called her el, but her real name was Sara. She was smart, and opinionated, and she could give the best eyeroll I’ve ever seen to this day. She was creative, an actress - throughout film school I tried to find parts for her whenever I could because really, the best bonus of making a movie was making a movie with your friends. She was an amazing actress. I saw her once in A Midsummer Night’s Dream - and to this day it’s the only play me and my attention span have been able to go to twice. She shone, in all her dark humour and sarcastic glory. She sparkled, but she’d think it was really lame that I said that. She starred in my terrible first silent film, “Muninn”, about a young girl who is haunted by the memory of her friend who’d passed on. She starred in a few more films for classmates, she folded in - she always belonged in her one of a kind way.

I catch myself sometimes still thinking that it’s a world with her in it. This isn’t a bid for more photos - although take photos as often as you can - it’s just a space to share that today, on this sunshine-filled afternoon, on her birthday, how I really wish I could go pick her up for a country drive. I want to tell her to listen to My Favorite Murder, because she’d love it. I want to hear about what she’s doing, her thoughts on movies, music, fandoms, to mosey on over to the secondhand bookstore, to sit on a dock on Lake Superior while the sun goes down and the mosquitoes swarm, making art in our journals together, taking long exposure photos, road trips in along the shore of northwestern Ontario - on fire with possibilities.

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Elizabeth | Chilliwack Portrait Photographer

This shoot was short & sweet, simple and super, super cold. I had found this really beautiful space I wanted to shoot in, and so I asked Elizabeth to meet up with me.

I feel like Elizabeth gives off some real Jo/Beth March vibes every time I shoot with her. We’ve done tons of shoots together in the past, including one of my favourite Trauma Roses installments. I like to think of these images as Jo March If She Were Casually Taking a Break From Her Novel to Hang Out on a Beach in the Middle of November.

Slightly different saturated edit on these, too - it’s nearing the end of winter and I need more colour in my life these days - how about you guys?

Model: Elizabeth Mary Seaman

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A cozy little room for reading & visiting

I have always loved a good guest room.

In her house, my Nan had this beautiful blue guest room. When I slept over, I always shared a room with my Nan - we’d watch Murder She Wrote, do the dinner dishes together, and then turn in with my hopping up onto her giant bed with a little step stool. Her bedspread, curtains, and wallpaper all had the same wheatfield pattern, and when my Nan fell deeper into dementia, I would sometimes wander into her room and feel so much comfort in that connection of memory between the quiet routine of our sleepovers and how much her personality was reflected in how she decorated her tiny little duplex - wood paneled walls, teak furniture, brown rug hook hangings, and violets everywhere.

I was rarely allowed in the blue guest room so that it stayed nice for guests, but it, too, reflected her personality. Purple and blue floral wallpaper with one white stucco wall. A chenille bedspread, decorative blue and purple pillows, and blue shag carpeting - it became my mom’s room when we moved in with my Nan, my brother’s when my mom moved into my Nan’s room, and my room when my brother moved out. It was fitting because no matter how long I lived in my Nan’s little duplex it was always and forever still her home, full of her memories, and reminders of the vibrant person she was in every carefully curated corner - it made sense that we all spent some time in that room she’d allocated especially for caring for and comforting visitors.

I was always taken with the fact that she had this dedicated, decorated space just for helping people feel at home in her home. One thing I was really excited about in moving into our little house was making our own little guest room - and while in between visitors it doesn’t stay as pristine as my Nan’s did (it’s a bit of a storage collector), it’s been really lovely - almost therapeutic? - to prepare it for visitors, and think about all the ways I can show them love, and care, and comfort in this tiny bright space.

I’m moving into this house s l o w l y it turns out, and that has meant waiting for each room to really become what it needs to be. I think the guest room is finally finished, so I wanted to share it with all of you. We just had a good friend come stay for a couple days, and next week my dear friend Amy is coming to stay, so I’m looking forward to getting it ready for her, too. My goal is always to have a space where people feel comfortable just closing the door for a bit for an afternoon nap, or reading a book or two, and recharging, with the lovely trees overhead behind the house, and the stellar jays & sparrows flying around the garden, and occasionally our cats aggressively sneaking in for cuddles.

One of my favourite parts is that that white chenille bedspread is the exact same one my Nan had on her guest bed.

So here’s our bright & cozy guest room.

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Some guest room books, and a cute little house planter from Spruce Collective, vintage quilt from Circa Vintage, and that white bedspread is the very same chenille cover that sat on my Nan’s guest room bed.

Some guest room books, and a cute little house planter from Spruce Collective, vintage quilt from Circa Vintage, and that white bedspread is the very same chenille cover that sat on my Nan’s guest room bed.

This sweet Cultus Lake photograph was thrifted.

This sweet Cultus Lake photograph was thrifted.

Beans and this Boston Fern are best friends and the fern should probably be a bit frightened. Little purple violets like my Nan loved.

Beans and this Boston Fern are best friends and the fern should probably be a bit frightened. Little purple violets like my Nan loved.

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Rocky Mountain Soap Company wellness spray (this stuff is delightful). The piano has nowhere else to live, so it’s serving as a little bookshelf/tv stand for now.

Rocky Mountain Soap Company wellness spray (this stuff is delightful). The piano has nowhere else to live, so it’s serving as a little bookshelf/tv stand for now.

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Jack and Audrey’s lovely body oil bought at Pick Eco Refills downtown, and a Minter Gardens pilea.

Jack and Audrey’s lovely body oil bought at Pick Eco Refills downtown, and a Minter Gardens pilea.

Antler from Kilnhouse Studio

Antler from Kilnhouse Studio

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Sweet little Godin mushroom print is thrifted, and the painting of my Grandpa is by Nichol Duenes of A Vintage Cloud.

Sweet little Godin mushroom print is thrifted, and the painting of my Grandpa is by Nichol Duenes of A Vintage Cloud.

Majestic. This poor fern.

Majestic. This poor fern.

The Raphael Family

I’ve been wanting to share this session with all of you for such a long time, and I haven’t quite known the words to use to tell the story of it. I think the best way I know how to share all of this with you is to let the photos tell the story of this wonderful family.

I feel honoured to have done this shoot with Rochelle and her family. I’m so grateful that Gabriella, her daughter, reached out to me way back last spring - and the careful consideration and love Gabriella poured in to coordinating and choosing every outfit is so evident in every frame. Steve, Rochelle’s husband, supported behind the scenes (I snuck a few frames though), and what struck me shooting this with all of them was how much love, care, and support they had for one another - and especially, how very strong Rochelle was. My dear friend Siobhan from Shiverz Designs created and designed all of the floral crowns, using flowers from her own garden.

I am finally making this post knowing that Rochelle very recently passed away and I know how very deeply she’ll be missed. I want to let you all know about a gofundme campaign started to help with funeral costs and any other needs. Donate to the GoFundMe here.

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